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January 2008 Archives

Plaxico's prediction

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Context! Context!

We in the media seem to be in constant wonder about why our interview subjects become wary of us, about why they feel "burned" by us. At the Super Bowl this week, there was a pretty good case in point.

It's not exactly the most egregious situation ever to hit sports journalism, but it is a at least a classic case of making a mountain out of a molehill (yeah, like that never happens at the Super Bowl).

Plaxico.JPGSomeone asked the New York Giants' Plaxico Burress what he thought the score of the game would be. He said he thought the Giants would win 23-17. Of course, Burress' first mistake was in giving a score in the first place. For a player to do that is just asking for trouble. And of course, the first thing that happened after that was that someone asked Patriots quarterback Tom Brady what he thought of Burress' prediction.

"We're only going to score 17 points?" Brady replied with a laugh. "OK, is Plax playing defense? I wish he had said 45-42 and gave us a little credit for scoring more points."

The main thing to realize here is that Brady said this WITH A LAUGH. The whole thing, from Plaxico to Terrific Tom, was done in good humor, but the media made way too much out of it. The Associated Press said Brady "scoffed" at Burress' remarks.

"Well," Burress said later, "23-17 was the first thing that came into my head."

And besides, as both players said later, you still have to play the game (and as Kansas City coach Herm Edwards is famous for saying: "You play to win the game!").

"I learned a lesson early in my career," said Brady. "No matter what you say during the week — and God knows we say a lot this week — we're going to be focused on going out and winning this game. We're confident, but I don't think we share our thoughts with everybody."

Burress: "I don't understand what the fuss is about. Nobody wants to lose."

Keep this stuff though, and no one will want to talk either.

Admittedly, my first thought when considering Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup is to rush to the safety of the New England Patriots’ 18-0 record. That big goose egg in the loss column is very attractive. It makes you feel very secure.

How can you go wrong siding with a team that’s 18-0, for crying out loud? To do otherwise makes you wonder, at least briefly, about your sanity.

But listen: The New York Giants could win this thing on Sunday. There. I said it. And by golly, I’m proud of it too.

(Brief moment while I gather myself after such a bold proclamation.)

Eli Manning.JPGBut you know, maybe it’s not all that bold after all. The Giants did come awfully close to beating the Patriots the last week of the regular season before New England mounted a comeback and took a 38-35 victory. New York had the Pats down 28-16 — their biggest deficit all season — in the third quarter. It was the game where you could say Giants quarterback Eli Manning (left) came of age.

New York comes into the Super Bowl with Manning having led them to 10 road wins in a row. Against the Patriots the first time around he threw four touchdown passes, completing 22 of 32 for 251 yards.

One key for the Giants in that game was how they struck early and they’ll need to do that again in Super Bowl XLII. In New York’s opening drive, Plaxico Burress made a great jump-ball catch for a 52-yard reception and Brandon Jacobs caught a 7-yard pass for a touchdown, breaking a tackle attempt by Tedy Bruschi.

Manning was definitely at his best in that game. It enabled him to lead the Giants to their two playoff wins against Dallas and Green Bay and has the entire team brimming with confidence as they get ready for the rematch in the desert.

The Giants haven’t had an offensive turnover since Manning’s interception to Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs. New York will have to be error-free to have a chance against New England.

Of course, the best way to try to beat the Patriots is to keep people like Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Laurence Maroney off the field. Time of possession is always important, but especially against perhaps the best offense the NFL has ever seen.

It’s not beyond the realm to see the Giants winning Super Bowl XLII. The Patriots’ toward history as the first 19-0 team in the NFL could just possibly be derailed.

Media 7 Brady.JPG
Media Day at the Super Bowl is like nothing else in the world. How's that for hype? Over the top, perhaps, but in this case, it might be true. Media Day can make Mardi Gras look sleepy. It can make Times Square on New Year's Eve look like Podunk, Mo.

The media covering the actual Super Bowl game is plenty all by itself. But on Media Day, the NFL throws the gates open and lets in Media 1 Turban.JPG virtually everyone. You get not only the ESPNs, the Foxes, the APs and the major newspapers, you also get local TV stations from -- in this case -- Boston and New York and also from Phoenix, the host city. These days, anybody with a camcorder and a microphone can ask a question, and likely will.

If you're not completely familiar with the process, the Patriots come into the stadium first and the main players get their own podium with the others (hmm ... think offensive linemen) Media 3 Wedding Dress.JPG will be in clusters around the stadium, perhaps even in the stands. After a certain amount of time, the Patriots leave, the media get fed (this time with food instead of tired old sound bites), and then the Giants come in.

The only time I was ever involved with this was way-y-y-y-y back when the Rose Bowl last hosted the game, the XXVIIth, Dallas-Buffalo in 1993. Strangely enough, Media Day was held at Dodger Stadium. Just about the strangest people I saw that day were Downtown Julie Brown from MTV and Al Roker from the Today Show on NBC.

Media 4 Dance.JPGThese days, as you can see from the accompanying photos, Julie and Al would be milquetoast, compared to the kind of "reporters" traipsing around in Glendale, Ariz. It's pretty crazy for everyone, media and teams alike. Some players love it, some players hate it. I remember Cowboys owner Jerry Jones holding court at Dodger Stadium, giving one-on-one interviews and looking like he expected his ring to be kissed.

Here are the descriptions of the AP photos, from top:
Tom Brady takes a picture of his own from his podium as a throng of media members surround him.

Na'Shan Goddard of the Giants is interviewed by a turbaned Telemundo reporter.

Media 2 Coughlin.JPGInes Gomez Mont, a reporter from TV Azteca in Mexico, wears a wedding dress and is carried by Patriots center Lonie Paxton while she interviews him. Don't look for the logic.

Bam Childress of the Patriots dances with reporter Marisol Gonzalez.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin is either answering a question or blessing his audience. Media 6 Stallworth Crowd.JPG Donte' Stallworth of the Patriots is a highly sought-after interview subject.

Media 5 Alone.JPGNot all players are clamored after by the media, as Jared Lorenzen of the Giants discovers.

It’s not all that unusual for a team to come into the Super Bowl largely as an unknown entity. Wild-card teams do it. Teams from places such as Seattle or Carolina do it.

Super Bowl Giants Foo_Carl.JPGBut a team from New York? Flying in under the radar? That’s just preposterous. But to a great extent, that’s what the New York Giants will be doing in Super Bowl XLII.

It isn’t so much that the Giants have somehow managed to give the New York media the slip this season. Sure, the tabloids in the Big Apple love to bash Isiah Thomas and the Knicks, but not to the expense of ignoring the Giants.

It’s just that compared to the incredible hoopla surrounding the 18-0 New England Patriots and their ESPN-trademarked “Pursuit of Perfection,? the Giants are chopped liver.

The Giants may as well be the Washington Generals and the Patriots the Harlem Globetrotters: an opponent that conveniently blends into the background so that the real stars, the team everybody paid their money to watch, can shine.

Of course, on the field, the Giants really aren’t that kind of an opponent. They’ve won 10 straight road games and lost by only three points to the Patriots in the last game of the regular season.

But in terms of hype, the Patriots have had an 18-week head start. That’s tough for the Giants to compete with, even with a quarterback named Manning.

Early in the season, it was the “Spygate? scandal. Come on, nobody can out-hype something that has the word “scandal? and has “-gate? on the end of it. And that was in Week 1. The Patriots hype machine has snowballed ever since.

I’m sorry, but Eli Manning (shown, with the deer-in-the-headlights expression) and the Giants have a long, long way to go before he approaches that level of examination.

All this has happened in the first week of Super Bowl hype. Media day isn’t even until Tuesday.

Lock your doors.

Arizona, here they come

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Super Bowl Patriots F_Carl.JPGYou suppose the state of Arizona is ready for the media mountain that is heading its way? The New England Patriots left Sunday for the Valley of the Sun (never mind that it's been the victim of the same deluge of rain we in Southern California have experienced the last week).

It was a lovely sendoff at Gillette Stadium. Linebacker Junior Seau looked like a member of the Rat Pack with his '60s-style fedora. Owner Robert Kraft wore the blue striped shirt with the white collar, but went a little crazy and had no tie!

The star of the show, of course, was quarterback Tom Brady, who was GQ-ready in his pinstriped suit, complete with hanky in the pocket. Most important to everyone watching, however, were his shoes. The AP story said Brady "walked with long strides and without a limp in his brown wingtips." The collective sigh of relief in Foxborough was enough to melt the snow.

OK, enough Patriots for a while. I promise next time, we'll be just as irreverent toward the New York Giants.

A cynic, trying to figure out the secrets owner Robert Kraft has used to make the New England Patriots a dynastic success would probably say something like, "Well, first you give your coach a video camera..."

AFC_Championship_Foot_Carl.JPG
But seriously, folks (and that's never a good phrase leading up to the Super Bowl), Kraft (on the right, with coach Bill Belichick) has to be given credit for building such a successful franchise. CNBC plans to do just that on Sunday in a one-hour special at 7 p.m. PST, with the low-key title Touchdown! The Patriots and the Business of Winning.

The CNBC news release about the show says, "The program profiles New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a savvy, self-assured and soft-spoken businessman who took a losing team that was last in attendance and revenue and turned it into a dynasty."

Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady are on the program to "discuss Kraft's management style," the release says. In Belichick's case it's "an exclusive one-on-one interview." Stop the presses.

Forget management style. The thing I want to know about Robert Kraft is why he always wears the same shirt -- blue stripes with a white collar -- to every Patriots game. That's almost as annoying as Belichick's hoodie.

AFC Championship Foot_Carl.JPGThe more quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots try to shut down the hype surrounding them heading into the Super Bowl, the more they attract it.
What's with the boot, Tom? And if you didn't want anyone to know about your alleged high ankle sprain, why did you wear the walking boot cast thingy when you went to the home of your girlfriend, model Gisele Bundchen?
We did like the "disguise" you used though, Tom: sunglasses and a hooded sweatshirt. Must've gotten the sweatshirt idea from your coach, Bill Belichick.
Maybe Brady was just pulling the wool over our eyes, Tom. After all, later on he was spotted WITHOUT the boot. This prompted this headline on ESPN: "Tom Brady photographed without boot." Of course, you and I weren't wearing boots either, but for some reason, nobody took our picture and we didn't make "SportsCenter."
Of course, on Thursday, the media were clinging to the first few open-to-the-paparazzi minutes of New England's practice in an effort to see if Tom Terrific was there. Lots of Matt Cassel and Matt Gutierrez, but no Brady.
At Belichick's news conference, reporters asked about Brady, but to no avail. Belichick doesn't have to turn in his injury report until next week, so he certainly isn't about to spill any beans now.
"I don't have any comment on it," Belichick said. "The injury report will be out next Wednesday and we're excited to give that to you. That form will be filled out completely and I can't wait to give that to everybody.
"I know you're anxious for it, so when it's due on Wednesday, we'll have it for you. Don't worry about that."

About this blog...
CarlisleJim.jpg

Jim Carlisle writes Tuesday sports columns and Friday TV-Radio columns for The Star. He has been on the sports staff of the Star (and its Thousand Oaks predecessor, the News Chronicle) since 1983. Jim pledges in his blog not to take sports — or himself — too seriously.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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